tv [untitled] May 30, 2011 10:00pm-10:30pm PDT
together, we can end the death penalty in california. [applause] >> thank you for having me here today. i would like to close by saying i have had the opportunity to view this issue from every point of view, having been the warden at san quentin state prison. i am absolutely impassioned about the fact that it is time to end the death penalty in this state. life without possibility of parole is the real sentence. hold people accountable and gives them the opportunity to change within the prison system, and they can give back by working within the prison system, giving restitution to family members and working on behalf of the state of california on a variety of projects that go on inside prisons. i also want to echo what the process said -- please join, please help -- i also want to echo what natasha said.
talk to 10 of your friends, send e-mails, send letters. thank you. [applause] >> 1985, when i was sentenced to death for a crime i did not commit, i thought right away that this would be rectified. i was convicted of two different crimes. it took 18 years. it took me seven execution dates. i watched 12 then be executed while i was there -- i watched 12 and then be executed while i was there. i'm not in a position to say whether either of them -- whether any of them were guilty or innocent. mr. d.a., i am asking you, truly consider leaving the death penalty along. let that be in god's hands, what that person goes through or deals with.
there are too many flaws in our system that we cannot control and we cannot trust a man. i am asking you to consider that, to take the consideration of that. the question we did not answer was it one of these guys were in this and that was executed by a prosecutor that had evidence that was clearly convincing that that person was innocent, what would you do? that was a simple question to me. that was not a tricky question. it was a straight up question dealing with innocence and the prosecutor doing something that was considered murder or attempted murder. you could answer that. you faded around that question, and to me, that is enough to make me think you should consider not dealing with the death penalty and joining in the fight to abolish the death penalty. we went to illinois, and i was with another group. we would go from state to state
that have the death penalty and go to legislators and everyone asking them to abolish the death penalty. in the last two years, we have been successful. it appears like we are going to have to put california on our list. but that is all i wanted to say. that is something that once you take a life, you cannot bring it back. accountability needs to be on your part, too, on the district attorney's part, so if he knew a man was innocent and still prosecuted him, that a straight up murder -- that is straight up murder. that is not malfeasance. [applause] >> i want to thank the public defender's office for putting this panel together. i understand there was a good panel this morning. these are issues that are conflicts, and they require
continuing dialogue. the law is not perfect. the law is always evolving. it was an honor also to be with the other panelists here. i think that the issue of the death penalty is one that obviously is right -- ripe for us to bring this back to the voters. i think there is a great deal of evidence today that speaks to the problems of wrongful convictions. i think we all understand what the factors are. we know there is a problem with wrongful convictions -- convictions. there is certainly a problem with prisoner treatment, and there is a problem with closure to the victims as well as the financial costs. it is up to all of us collectively to talk about how we deal with this and create a more profitable policy around dealing with very serious crimes, and i welcome the
opportunity for having been here today. thank you very much. [applause] >> jeff adacci has a few closing remarks. >> i am a public defender. >> good afternoon. i am with the d a's office. >> in closing today's program, we want to first of all thank all of you for being here and being part of this discussion. no doubt, we achieved a great deal. this was not just another talking head conference where people were just here to give a speech. you really heard engaged discussion from this morning all the way up until now. we thank our panelists because they came here with an open heart and an open mind.
we are going to talk in a minute about how we are going to move things forward. i want to thank the staff of the public defender's office and the many volunteers who made this possible. we thank the library staff as well as sfgovtv for their good work here. john came here because we invited him and because he knew that he is making a difference and will continue to make a difference. after serving 14 years on death row and spending 18 years of his life fighting the case, he continued to fight for justice, and he brought his case to the united states supreme court.
he received a $40 million jury verdict, and in april, the united states supreme court overturned that, even though in this case, there were three prosecutors who have -- who were found to have intentionally withheld evidence that would have exonerated him. plus, and this is a great lesson for all of us, it was a prosecutor who was the hero. he stood up and came forward and told everybody what the other two prosecutors did. when he did that, his efforts were rebuked by the district attorney. as a result, he left his job. it tells you that there are heroes everywhere. people are standing up for justice everywhere. we have to reach everyone everywhere every place in order to solve this problem. we do have a plaque to presented -- present to j.t >
as a result of everything he has been through, but more importantly, to help him in the future -- present to j.t. as a result of everything he has been through, but more importantly, for everything he will do in the future. you can support the work he does with a reentry program for persons coming back from prison. so if we could present this to you. [applause] moving forward, our work cannot stop here. i would like to have christine
talk about what we are going to be doing moving forward. we have had meetings with district attorney george gascono about doing things differently. within the police chief, a new district attorney, we have that opportunity -- with a new police chief, a new district attorney, we have that opportunity. i would also like to acknowledge supervisor ross mirkarimi to come up here just for a moment and say hello, and let me have christine close the program. >> good afternoon, everybody. it was a pleasure to listen to the last panel this afternoon. i am the chief of staff for mr. gascon, and i joined him when he moved over to the d.a.'s office. joining the office on his request, because i think we really have a unique
perspective, having worked on the defense side and on policy issues, and i can attest that he is undertaking a wholehearted effort to really bring some reform to the criminal justice system on many fronts, this being one of them that we are evaluating. i hope that you as city and county residents will see in our work that we really take some efforts that will reform. anybody that has participated in the criminal justice system for any length of time knows that it does not work from whatever and will you are looking at it, so the question is how do we make it better? we hope to engage all of you in that. we are starting neighborhood courts, and a lot of efforts that we hope to engage the city and county in supporting us and looking at ways to move away from the over incarceration of people and look at ways to reform their behavior. the efforts we have undertaken when george was appointed to the position -- jeff asked him to come to the public defender's
office to have a question and answer session, which he did, and i attended with him. we are told that was the first time that had ever happened, and we reciprocated by asking jeff to meet with the district attorneys in our office. we have begun a dialogue that both sides think is very healthy. we have identified a number of issues that we think require further exploration, so we are creating working group's staff by the people from the d.a.'s office and the public defender's office to look at improving things like discovery, which is an important issue, making sure that we have reciprocal discovery and that it is transparent and complete. looking at workers from collaborative courts, looking at solutions besides incarceration, dealing with mental health and behavioral health issues, rather than using the jails as a solution to that, and we are also working around juvenile issues to make sure we are doing all we can for those under the age of 18 in our community.
those are the efforts we are undertaking. jeff and matt have been a fantastic partners in this. as far as we know, it is a new day in these efforts and really trying to work collaboratively and we hope to have all your support in doing that. [applause] >> of course, that is not to say that we are not going to fight it out in court because, of course, that is what we do. i would like to briefly introduce ross mirkarimi, who is a supervisor here in the city, and he has been a champion of many criminal justice issues, including prisoner reentry. i also want to thank and acknowledge debra atherton. thank you. supervisor mirkarimi: it is nice
to see everybody. jeff is generous. i was not expecting to be up here. i know you have had a productive day. i think that the public defender's summit is something not to be missed and a template for the rest of california and probably the nation to follow. i am proud of our public defender. i am proud of our criminal justice partners because over the last four years, we have seen a great amount of innovation. jeff and i started the city's first reentry council, and it might be bewildering to you, but before we started it, believe it or not, those stakeholders in the criminal-justice system really very irregularly rarely would come together and talk about ways that we might mitigate, reduce our recidivism rate. great progress has been made, but san francisco still needs to step up its game. i was delighted to hear the conversation that took place
here, but no the statistic that for every four people that sanford's is the police department arrests and the da prosecutes, nearly three are repeat offenders -- for every four people that san francisco police department arrests and the da prosecutes -- the d.a. prosecutes. there is evidence to show that doing everything we can to try to divert some of his life from repeating their offense, but we will have to really vigorously enhance our approach. one way to do that obviously is the collaboration being fostered and demonstrated here today, but it is more than just today. it will have to be every single day, or else california will continue to be building more prisons, and san francisco may not be far behind. thanks. [applause]